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November 22, 2022

178 | 3 Training Factors to Improve Your Physique

Today’s episode is all about building a shape with your body and training factors that can help with that. I know that I don’t often talk about physique, but, fuzzy changes do happen with the clients that I work with as a byproduct of our training methods. So that is the angle that I am taking today’s episode from.

We can’t spot train fat away, but we can absolutely spot train our muscles, and choose to develop certain ones over other ones with training methodologies. Which is actually one of my favorite things about muscle – Our ability to manipulate it through training and stimulus.

If you are a trainer, feel free to apply this to your client programming, and if you are a trainee, currently following a program, feel free to focus in on some of these elements of training.

First off, we will cover three different training factors today. But all of them assume that you are consistent with your training. And that the training, or programming itself is purpose driven.

1.) Time under tension + proficiency

  • slower tempo
  • I feel like I am beating a dead horse when I say that hypertrophy requires mechanical tension or load, but it’s true. And it is the main driving factor of muscle growth. If you want to change the shape of your body or musculature, it will require Challenging mechanical loads. Which we will talk about in part two. But it will also require time under tension. This is more specific than just saying volume. Your volume of work could be reduced to your sets and reps. But your tempo is what will actually determine how long those sets and reps take. And that’s what’s most important. three sets of eight just going through the motions will give you a completely different stimulus and result than three sets of eight with a three second down E centric, a pause at the bottom and a one second concentric. I hope that you can see that. If the current program you are following does not include a tempo, then just stick with a general slower down then up tempo.

Slowing down also builds proficiency with a movement. So if you’ve ever heard someone talk about mind muscle connection and your ability to recruit muscle fibers, slowing down the tempo can be one factor that will help with that. When building muscle, we want to recruit as many muscle fibers as we can. Bringing mental awareness to the area that we are working, and the pattern that we are building can be helpful with that. We want to build proficiency always. So if you have just been going through the motions, consider focusing in on your tempo, and proficiency. Think about the muscle that you are working, visualize it, look at it if you can.

2.) Effort

  • high RPE

As I mentioned mechanical tension or load is needed in order to stimulate the muscle for growth. We want muscle protein synthesis more than we want muscle protein breakdown. That’s literally how we get hypertrophy. And that requires a challenging load. Generally speaking I would want a client to be working at a RIR of two or less when attempting to build muscle. That means leaving two reps in reserve at the end of a set. That just means that it’s challenging. And that’s what we want if we are to build muscle.

I would argue that most people are not working as hard as they should in the gym. As hard or as proficient. Really push yourself. You can always lower the weight if needed. I use the rule of two with my clients. If you can’t complete the last two reps you need to do another site with lighter weight. And you should be in struggling on the last two reps that be able to perform 1 to 2 more without completely breaking form.

I will note, this will also require you to take legitimate rest periods in between sets. If you are working at a high RPE he will not be able to just bounce between exercises and a super set with zero rest. Not if you want to continue with a higher level of performance. If your program doesn’t involve rest periods, or you haven’t been sticking to them, give that a go and see what happens. I would rest at least one minute between sets.

3.) Well rounded musculature

  • full range of motion
  • Range of motion is something that people forget about when it comes to exercise variation or exercise selection. Or any factor that we can change within programming for that matter. This is somewhat open ended, but I encourage you to just play with range of motion. For range of motion with the weight that you can control through your and ranges, and then also shortened ranges of motion where you can really push the load. Both of these give the musculature a different stimulus. I think it’s worth playing with both. Know that you will recruit different muscle fibers at different ranges of motion. Which is why there is benefit to full range of motion. remember the goal we are discussing is hypertrophy and building muscle, not necessarily building maximal strength. Working within full ranges of motion can help overall maximal strength, but when performing maximal strength he will want to limit the range of motion because this limits the time under tension. That takes us back to the first point, that making the range of motion larger can also by default make the time under tension longer, stimulating the muscle for a longer period of time.

That’s it. Those are three training factors and quick tips on how to improve the shape of your body through training your muscles. Remember that we can spot build muscle, but we can’t spot train fat away. So focus on building the shape you would like through building different muscles in the body. We’re just trying for performance and see what happens with your physique.  

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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